To understand just how seriously Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall takes the Shockers’ weight-lifting program, just spend a few minutes with WSU strength and conditioning coach Kerry Rosenboom.
There’s no gray area there. The Shockers are big and strong and they want to keep it that way.
“Since Coach Marshall came here, he’s been really big into the strength and conditioning, the physical side of basketball,” Rosenboom said. “For him, it’s about toughness. Every day we’re not playing, we’re lifting.”
Rosenboom doesn’t just coordinate what’s going on with the Shockers in the weight room when they’re in Wichita. The process includes scouting locations for road trips – mainly hotels.
This week, leading up to the Shockers’ trip to Atlanta to face Louisville in the Final Four on Saturday, Rosenboom had WSU lift on Monday, Tuesday and before they left on Wednesday.
Once he finds out what’s available at the hotel, he tailors the workouts for what they have there. The Shockers take the workouts so seriously that one player is appointed to go check out the exercise room and confirm what’s there to work out with once they get to the hotel.
Two years ago it was Graham Hatch. Last year, it was Garrett Stutz. This year, it’ssenior center Ehimen Orukpe.
“It’s important for us to keep in those routines with lifting,” Orukpe said. “We take it very seriously. I think sometimes, in the past couple of years, we may have had people who slacked off when it came to lifting and keeping their bodies strong and you could see the effects it had in games. It may have led to some losses.”
Therein lies the ownership — when Rosenboom isn’t around to make the players accountable, they have to police themselves.
“At the point they get on the road, it’s on the guys to make sure they find the time to work out, and the routine is usually a lot shorter, about 30-35 minutes,” Rosenboom said. “When we were at Missouri State earlier this year the people at hotel said they had this and this, so we go there … and they had none of it.
“So sometimes you just have to MacGyver a workout and say ‘Look, we have a couple of 25-pound weights and a couple of 35-pound weights … or we could be doing dips off a treadmill if we have to. We just to try to put it together as consistent as possible.”
For freshmen and junior-college transfers, the workouts take some getting used to. Like everything else with the transition to playing Division I, it’s amped up a level.
“For some of the new guys, for the first-year guys, it’s harder because they’re not used to pushing their bodies that much,” Rosenboom said. “Those guys, when they’re on the road, they just play, practice, relax and watch game film. Guys like Tekele (Cotton), Ron (Baker) and Malcolm (Armstead) are used to doing what we expect them to do and take it a little more upon themselves to make sure everybody stays in a routine.”
One of the perils of lifting weights and trying to play basketball can be the soreness from lifting can have an impact on your shooting stroke.
That is, unless, you’re consistent about the lifting. Then it can help.
“You don’t want to get away from it, because your body needs to be in tune with what you’re doing on the court and in the weight room,” Baker said. “You can’t stop lifting and come back to it and not expect it to have some effect on your game.
“It’s something we take very seriously because it’s part of our routine and it’s something that we think will help us win games. I know it’s hard to get used to for the guys that are just coming in, but we help them along.”